05/10/08 11:32 PM ET
Lowrie leads Red Sox's homer barrage
Rookie triple shy of cycle, hits one of four dingers to back Dice-K
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
With Red Sox starting shortstop Julio Lugo sitting out Saturday's game in the aftermath of a blow to the head, Lowrie found out around 5 p.m. ET he would be in the lineup. On emergency cue, Lowrie proved to be quite a headache for the Twins. Hitting in the No. 9 slot, Lowrie went 3-for-4 and hit his first Major League homer, a tiebreaking shot to left in the seventh that boosted Boston toward a 5-2 victory at the Metrodome.
The Red Sox were in some trouble heading to the seventh as Twins rookie left-hander Glen Perkins showed both poise and talent in his first Major League start and was clinging to a 2-1 lead. But the bottom of the Boston lineup came up big in the power department. Coco Crisp promptly tied the game with his first homer of the season, and Lowrie put the Red Sox ahead with a 352-foot blast to left.
"I rounded first base and I didn't know it was out," Lowrie said. "I looked around and none of the umpires made a signal, so I just kept running."
Getting a start on short notice was no problem for Lowrie, who entered the game on an 0-for-11 skid at the plate.
"That's my role right now," Lowrie said. "I have to be ready to play whenever they need me. It's something I'm new at doing, but it's something I hope to continue to get comfortable at."
Lowrie, who finished just a triple shy of the cycle, got his home run ball back from a fan in the left-field stands, thanks to some quick negotiating. The Red Sox provided a Josh Beckett autographed ball in exchange for the Lowrie homer ball.
"Apparently, [Beckett's] signed ball is worth more than my first home run," Lowrie said with a smile.
That home run was certainly worth a lot to the Red Sox, who bounced right back after a tough loss in the bottom of the ninth on Friday.
The Red Sox supported starter Daisuke Matsuzaka with a season-high four homers. Kevin Youkilis and Mike Lowell went deep, in addition to the back-to-back shots by Crisp and Lowrie.
The Twins managed some hard-hit balls in the early going, but Matsuzaka (6-0) seemed to find his groove as he settled in. He wound up going seven innings and allowed six hits and two runs.
"The obvious difference from my previous few starts was really my feel for the ball," Matsuzaka said through his translator.
Matsuzaka did have one blooper-reel moment when his arm came forward on a third-inning pitch as the ball slipped from his grasp. The baseball wound up rolling slowly toward the plate.
"Nice changeup, huh?" Matsuzaka quipped.
Manager Terry Francona liked what he saw from Matsuzaka as the game wore on.
"Against a really aggressive team, I thought he established early that he was going to throw strikes," Francona said. "He got ahead more often that he didn't. As the game progressed, he got into his delivery."
Francona said that because Matsuzaka hung tough early, it allowed Boston's offense an opportunity to get the team over the hump in the late going.
"We took some good swings," Francona said. "We got the back-to-back [homers] and then we add on. Every run helps."
The Red Sox (24-15) can now look past their recent dome doldrums. Prior to Saturday's game, they had lost eight straight in domes.
More good work from Hideki Okajima in the eighth inning and a solid ninth from Jonathan Papelbon sealed the deal. The box score shows that Papelbon was charged with a hit, but only because of a fluke play. Mike Lamb's two-out popup hit a Metrodome wire, changed course and fell out of the reach of catcher Jason Varitek.
It was Boston's night. In particular, it was Lowrie's night.
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.